Something about this time of year just makes me crave Brunswick Stew. For my non Georgia friends, the stew, claimed by a couple of cities in the ol USA, is usually a beef/chicken/pork concoction. In Kentucky, it's burgoo, but here, it's stew.
Brunswick stew is an acquired taste, though, and I have my druthers.
1. I like it spicy,
2. I like it corny,
3. I like a dash of vinegary tang in it;
4. I DON'T want no stinkin Lima Beans in it. Or squirrel. Or rabbit.
My college buddy, Jim Auchmutey, is one of the few people on earth I can have a conversation about Brunswick Stew with and maintain my sainty. About 20 years ago, he had an article in the AJC where he wrote about his Daddy, Charles', Brunswick Stew recipe. Jim is a brilliant feature writer, with an exceptional talent for food writing, so I loved that article. I kept two parts of it -- his Dad's recipe, and one by Jimmy Bentley, whom I used to cover when I was a reporter with the North Fulton Neighbor newspaper. I still haev the original Bentley's from the article -- and I told Jim I liked it. He said, modestly, "we like my Daddy's better." I vowed I would cook it some day soon, and made the Bentley recipe for years.
In the interim, I found two Georgia stews I really liked -- Old Clinton BBQ in Gray, and Fresh Air in Jackson, by the prison, "the place where fashion goes to die," according to my dear Randy. Sadly, in a moment of yearning for stew, I went into Old Clinton and found out they add BREAD to their stew, rendering it verboten to me in my GF state of life.
Jim, his wife Pam, and I, have kept in touch and stayed friends for 30 years -- we were all college newspaper buddies, but they got and STAYED married -- so I was saddened in May to see that Charles had died. I had kept Charles' reprinted recipe from the AJC and made it last weekend, and with respect to my friend's Daddy, I present it here -- WITH three sllight additions.
I told Jim about that, and he said he thought his Dad would be pleased.
So here is Charles Auchmutey's Brunswick Stew.
2 1/2 pounds chicken pieces (I used six organic thighs I found on sale)
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef (I used Ground Round, 4 percent fat, and organic)
3/4 pound ground pork (I had some leftover pulled pork roast)
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes
1 (14 3/4-ounce) can creamed corn
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup cider vinegar
4 tablespoons ( 1/2 stick) butter
1 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon red pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
One whole Vidalia onion, chopped
I can whole kernel corn
1/8 cup Texas Pete Hot Sauce (or another mild and vinegary sauce, like the one I have from Elgin Smokehouse.)
Remove skin and excess fat from chicken pieces. Place in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer until meat falls off bones, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain broth. After the chicken has cooled, pick the meat from the bones, shredding into small pieces.
In a large skillet, (I JUST PUT THIS STRAIGHT INTO MY CROCK POT ON HIGH FOR TWO HOURS WITH THE ONION) cook the beef and pork together, stirring often and breaking into fine pieces, until the meat is just gray.
Add chicken to beef and pork. Add the tomatoes, corn, ketchup, vinegar, butter, black pepper, red pepper and salt. Mix well. Cook over low heat for 3 hours, stirring from the bottom of the pot often. (Or, if using a crockpot, cook for 5 to 6 hours on low.) Taste after an hour or so to fine-tune seasonings.
Before serving, stir in hot sauce.
Makes A LOT of tum-yummy stew. This freezes well (if there's any left).
Much love, and cheers to you, Charles!